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Who’s Helio?

April 30, 2007 in Wireless Industry News

…is the question that a CNNMoney columnist is trying to answer. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get too close to finding an answer. And, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what Helio was either before doing a bit of research…

The Helio Logo

Helio? Who?

So far, the only mention I’ve seen of Helio are the kiosks in certain retail stores such as FYE, Sam Goody, and Best Buy. And none of those places did a very good job at explaining exactly what Helio is.

First, Helio is a MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator – that means it doesn’t actually OWN any parts of the radio spectrum allowed for use by the FCC (the backbone for providers such as Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, etc). Instead, it leases spectrum from Sprint and sometimes Verizon or Alltel Wireless. Developed as a collaboration between Earthlink and SK Telecom, Helio’s goal was to entice the younger 18-34 demographic with cool, next-gen phones straight from Korea. It’s an interesting idea, although not exactly profitable at this time – Helio lost $30 million dollars in the first quarter of 2007. It did manage to attract 70k customers in the first six months, although this figure pales in comparison to the number of subscribers Cingular and Verizon sign up each quarter.

The problem is what I consider to be a really, really terrible marketing job. After all, how can people talk about Helio when no one even knows what it is? Up until today, I thought that Helio was some kind of new-age prepaid mobile phone service, a la Tracfone.

And finally, here’s a quote from the article:

“Judging by the slow growth of Helio’s subscribers, I’m guessing that’s the way a lot of consumers react. Will cool features be enough to draw someone away from the reliability and trustworthiness of a big-time carrier? The jury’s still out.”

Source: “Helio’s Halo is starting to dim” – CNNMoney



10:52 am

yes. just make sure you know who they’re leasing it from!

7:41 pm

if helio leases the spectrum, does this mean the network is as reliable as if you were going thru one of the main carriers?

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